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The Science of Salsa: Antimicrobial Properties of Salsa Components to Learn Scientific Methodology

    Authors: Tamara L. Marsh1,*, Paul E. Arriola1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois 60126
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 17 May 2009
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biology, Elmhurst College, 190 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126. Phone: (630) 617-3591. Fax: (630) 617-6474. E-mail: marsht@elmhurst.edu.
    • Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 3-8. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.93
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    Abstract:

    Most ethnic foods and cooking practices have incorporated the use of spices and other food additives. Many common spices have crossed cultural boundaries and appear in multiple ethnic cuisines. Recent studies have demonstrated that many of these ingredients possess antimicrobial properties against common food spoilage microorganisms. We developed a laboratory exercise that promotes the use of scientific methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of salsa components at inhibiting the growth of undesirable microorganisms. Tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño were tested for antimicrobial properties against a representative fungus, , and the common food spoilage bacteria , , and . Each component was ethanol extracted and a modification of the Kirby-Bauer method of antimicrobial sensitivity was employed. Garlic demonstrated the greatest inhibitory effects against all organisms tested. Onion demonstrated a slight inhibition of all four organisms, while cilantro showed some inhibition of all three bacteria but no effect against the fungus. Jalapeño may have slightly inhibited and , as evidenced by a consistently measured increase in the zone of inhibition that was not statistically significant when compared to that of the control. Following the initial exercise, students were given the opportunity to repeat the exercise using other spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and coriander. Student learning outcomes were evaluated using preliminary and secondary surveys, mainly focusing on definitions of science and hypothesis as well as the process of science. Students enjoyed this exercise and met the learning goals of understanding the process and methodology of science, as well as the interdisciplinarity inherent in the sciences. Student learning was evidenced by an increase in the number of correct responses on the secondary survey in comparison to the preliminary.

Key Concept Ranking

Escherichia coli
0.5608917
Food Spoilage Microorganisms
0.5042199
Bacillus cereus
0.48950556
0.5608917

References & Citations

1. Delaquis PJ, Stanich K, Girard B, Mazza G2002Antimicrobial activity of individual and mixed fractions of dill, cilantro, coriander and eucalyptus essential oilsInt J Food Microbiol7410110910.1016/S0168-1605(01)00734-611929164 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0168-1605(01)00734-6
2. Food Marketing Institute2000Hispanic purchasing powerSupermarket Res.22
3. Molina-Torres J, García-Chávez A, Ramírez-Chávez E1999Antimicrobial properties of alkamides present in flavouring plants traditionally used in Mesoamerica: affinin and capsaicinJ Ethnopharmacol6424124810.1016/S0378-8741(98)00134-210363839 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00134-2
4. National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment, National Research Council1996National science education standardsNational Academy PressWashington, DC
5. Pereira MC, Chalfoun SM, Pimenta CJ, Angélico CL, Maciel WP2006Spices, fungi mycelial development and ochratoxin ASci Res Essay1038042
6. Ross ZM, O’Gara EA, Hill DJ, Sleihtholme HV, Maslin DJ2001Antimicrobial properties of garlic oil against human enteric bacteria: evaluation of methodologies and comparisons with garlic oil sulfides and garlic powderAppl Env Microbiol6747548010.1128/AEM.67.1.475-480.2001 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.67.1.475-480.2001
7. Sharma A, Tewari GM, Shrikhande AJ, Padwal-Desai SR, Bandyopadhyay C1979Inhibition of aflatoxin-producing fungi by onion extractsJ Food Sci441545154710.1111/j.1365-2621.1979.tb06484.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1979.tb06484.x
8. Shelef LA1983Antimicrobial effects of spicesJ Food Safety6294410.1111/j.1745-4565.1984.tb00477.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4565.1984.tb00477.x
9. Sherman PW, Billing J1999Darwinian gastronomy: why we use spicesBioScience4945346310.2307/1313553 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1313553
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v10.93
2009-05-17
2017-08-17

Abstract:

Most ethnic foods and cooking practices have incorporated the use of spices and other food additives. Many common spices have crossed cultural boundaries and appear in multiple ethnic cuisines. Recent studies have demonstrated that many of these ingredients possess antimicrobial properties against common food spoilage microorganisms. We developed a laboratory exercise that promotes the use of scientific methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of salsa components at inhibiting the growth of undesirable microorganisms. Tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño were tested for antimicrobial properties against a representative fungus, , and the common food spoilage bacteria , , and . Each component was ethanol extracted and a modification of the Kirby-Bauer method of antimicrobial sensitivity was employed. Garlic demonstrated the greatest inhibitory effects against all organisms tested. Onion demonstrated a slight inhibition of all four organisms, while cilantro showed some inhibition of all three bacteria but no effect against the fungus. Jalapeño may have slightly inhibited and , as evidenced by a consistently measured increase in the zone of inhibition that was not statistically significant when compared to that of the control. Following the initial exercise, students were given the opportunity to repeat the exercise using other spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and coriander. Student learning outcomes were evaluated using preliminary and secondary surveys, mainly focusing on definitions of science and hypothesis as well as the process of science. Students enjoyed this exercise and met the learning goals of understanding the process and methodology of science, as well as the interdisciplinarity inherent in the sciences. Student learning was evidenced by an increase in the number of correct responses on the secondary survey in comparison to the preliminary.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

(A.) Representative plates showing inhibition of by extracts of garlic (G), onion (O), and cilantro (CI), compared to ethanol control (C). (B). Representative plate of inhibited by garlic extract.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 3-8. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.93
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Image of FIG. 2.

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FIG. 2.

Means of tracked pre- and posttest responses. Symbols: ▪, question 1 (What is science?); □, question 2 (What are the steps in the scientific method?); ▴, question 3 (What is the purpose of developing a hypothesis?); •, question 4 (Why would you need biology, chemistry, and math to answer questions about bacterial growth?).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 3-8. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.93
Download as Powerpoint

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